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Certificate vs. associate degree: What is the difference?

Boise State University provides you with an opportunity to achieve your personal and professional goals at any time, any place, by offering more than 100 online programs.

With flexibility and strategic design, every option helps you balance school with families, jobs, military service and everyday life. The asynchronous programs also offer the same high quality and integrity as traditional courses.

Boise State is committed to your success regardless of your career stage or personal or work obligations. The most important decision before enrolling is finding a program that best suits your needs.

Here is a look at two of the available options and the reasons you should choose a certificate vs. associate degree. A certificate and an associate degree can also help you build toward a bachelor’s degree.

Why a Certificate?

As the name indicates, certificates are not degrees. A certificate is a brief program that includes courses and appears on your official transcript. You can also overcome time and geographical constraints by earning a certificate online.

Whether you choose an undergraduate or graduate certificate, this route offers you higher education without committing the cost and time to an associate degree. However, certificates can serve as a pathway to an associate degree or other higher education opportunities.

Most accredited certificate options are specific to the subject and do not include any general education requirements, allowing you to focus on a specific skill set, credential or training.

Boise State offers numerous certificate options designed by expert faculty and staff. These online offerings fall into four categories:

  • Business: Add meaningful experiences to your resume as you prepare for career advancement through innovative course elements and outcomes. The business certificate programs are designed to accommodate working professionals.
  • Technology: Learn skills and credentials relevant to the fast-paced technology field taught by industry-leading faculty.
  • Creative: Capitalize on your skills by learning to create, design and innovate into marketable and specific experiences.
  • General: With subjects for any stage of your career or experience level, target specific areas to enhance your knowledge.

Our online, asynchronous certificate programs allow you to access educational opportunities across the globe. Boise State Online course credits are also transferable to all Idaho universities and many others to help you supplement your academic experience.

Why an Associate Degree?

An associate degree is a more traditional two-year program that allows you to earn a credential that typically serves as a springboard to a bachelor’s degree. It can also help you gain college experience to earn a promotion or land a job that requires it.

With its reputation for innovation and nationally-ranked online programs, Boise State’s associate degrees stand out from others. Like a certificate, an online associate degree facilitates your needs if you are bound by time and geography.

Although earning an adaptable and flexible online associate degree is an option for anybody, most students fall into one of four categories:

  • Career starter: Someone who prioritizes flexibility and affordability and is looking to launch a long-term career.
  • Career advancer: Often someone who has worked full-time for the same company for more than ten years and wants to improve their skill set and desires a promotion.
  • Degree-finisher: Someone who has taken a few college-level courses and wants to complete a degree to improve quality of life.
  • Military: Often someone who lives on or near a military base, has some credits from technical school or the Community College of the Air Force and wants to use an associate degree as a bridge to a bachelor’s degree. The flexibility of an online program is especially important if deployed.

No matter which option is ideal for your needs, Boise State’s online programs provide you with advisors who will assist you from enrollment to completion.

Want to Learn More About Boise State’s Online Programs?

Are you ready to enroll in a certificate or associate degree program? Join us for an online information session or connect with a student success coach.

Contact a Student Success Coach